News

From Words to Actions: Catalyzing Multi-sectoral Alliances to Co-create Indigenous-led Financing Mechanisms for Inclusive Nature-based Solutions

Indigenous leaders, donors, and NGOs discussed Indigenous-led finance models and funding initiatives at a Climate Week New York event.

Indigenous Peoples and their territories are sources of global solutions to climate change. Respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and increasing their participation in climate-based solutions is critical to achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals, fostering climate resilience, and reducing risks to all sectors. 

However, only a fraction of funding for climate and nature-based solutions has directly reached Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and local communities in the past decade. Indigenous-led financial mechanisms are the fuel to safeguard Indigenous customary rights and value their livelihoods and practices as an underlying principle to promote sustainable development and catalyze scalable and long-term climate solutions.

At Climate Week New York, the FSC Indigenous Foundation, USAID, the Coalition for the UN We Need, and GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion organized a panel discussion From Words to Actions: Catalyzing Multi-sectoral Alliances to Co-create Indigenous-led Financing Mechanisms for Inclusive Nature-based Solutions to bring together Indigenous leaders, donors, and NGOs to exchange on existing Indigenous-led finance models and identify ways of integration and collaboration to achieve common goals toward piloting Indigenous-led funding initiatives worldwide.

Francisco Souza, Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation and member of the Apurinã Indigenous Peoples of the Brazilian Amazon, opened the session with a critical message about the importance of creating and strengthening cross-collaboration among different sectors. He also stated: “The conversation today is about the future, but we need to think about the past, and we need to recognize and respect the past.” Indigenous communities have lived in harmony with Mother Earth for centuries. “Integrating Indigenous communities will help us reduce risks for the future and think together about the solutions; the asset that we bring to the table is the knowledge that we’ve gathered for centuries.” 

Maria F. Espinosa, member of GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion, pointed out that women need to be at the heart of climate action and  Indigenous Women are already taking leadership in helping their communities adapt to the changing climate. She said, “Climate change is a symptom of a broken relationship between society, politics, our economic models, and nature. The call here is for reconciliation between humans and nature, and Indigenous Peoples are key to rebuilding the relationship with nature.

In the first panel, Indigenous Voices, participants discussed how to ensure Indigenous voices are heard at the highest levels of decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, climate finance, and how to create stronger alliances to conserve forests and other ecosystems. Aïssatou Oumarou, an Indigenous leader from Chad and Vice President of the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC) stated that “REPALEAC helps Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in Africa, we support 467 organizations. Our vision is to help Africa provide the great contributions of ICLCs to climate action and to request our participation in decision-making.” 

Kanyinke Sena, Director of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC), stated that “Local communities are not receiving enough funding” in order to implement nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and protect their resources. Participants also called attention to the alarming numbers of environmental defenders that have been killed in recent years for raising their voices.

In the second panel, Donor Perspectives: Investing in the fight against Climate Change, panelists presented the financial initiatives and programs that they offer to support local solutions to global environmental problems and empower Indigenous Peoples in their roles as guardians of nature. 

They all concluded that there is funding available to help solve the problems: “The money is there”, but all interested parties need to strengthen and clearly define good financial mechanisms as well as improved mechanisms for implementation, reporting, and follow-up. It is essential to ensure that climate finance is reaching Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. 

This productive discussion included: Gillian Caldwell, Chief Climate Officer and Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID, Andrea Johnson, Advisor, Global and Mexico and Central America Initiatives for the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), and Yoko Watanabe, GEF Small Grants Programme at UNDP. 

Caldwell from USAID stated, “Indigenous Peoples have been aware since a long time ago that the climate was changing in dangerous ways, and yet they are still sometimes marginalized from climate-related decision-making.” 

Johnson from CLUA called for building trust-based philanthropy and the co-creation of solutions. “CLUA is trying to shift the ways in which the money is channeled.”

Watanabe from the GEF Small Grants Programme at UNDP called attention to the ownership or programs, “It is very important that the decisions are owned and held by civil society and Indigenous Peoples.” She also mentioned that sharing lessons learned is essential. 

The last panel, Indigenous Led Initiatives – Nature Based Solutions, was dedicated to sharing good practices and lessons learned about collaborative conservation projects and nature-based climate change solutions. The two distinguished panelists: Francisco Souza, Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation (IF), and Gustavo Sanchez, President of the Mexican Network of Forest Local Organizations (MOCAF) and Board of Directors of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), discussed how we can promote multi-sectoral alliances to co-create Indigenous-led financing for inclusive climate-based solutions. 

Souza stated, “We should be able to think about Indigenous economies and Indigenous businesses” in order for IPLCs to achieve sustainable self-development.  He also mentioned that IPLCs need to evaluate if they can see carbon markets as an opportunity. Indigenous Peoples have the capacity to manage their resources as they have been doing this for centuries, but at the same time, “We should be able to influence different spaces, to negotiate with different stakeholders, to manage the money at different scales.”

On the other hand, Sanchez spoke about global and regional programs they are developing with donors and expressed concern about the slow progress in some aspects. He called attention to the flexibility of programs in terms of priorities that are defined, “Donors need to understand what the other stakeholders require, to actually see the priorities in the territories and not just the priorities that donors have.” He called for action and closed with the statement: “We hope to get to the COP with more facts and not only with promises.”  

Francisco Souza closed the event with a message that we need to think about implementing the $1.7bn pledge made at COP26 to give funding directly to Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we also need to bring together different stakeholders together to think beyond the pledge. 

View a recording of the webinar here.

News

III Guna Women’s Congress

The Congress was a space for dialogue, reflection, empowerment and spirituality among Guna women.

Strengthening and spirituality

Guna women play a fundamental role in the Gunadule society, as guardians of the forests and responsible for transmitting traditional knowledge such as language, collective memory, and traditional practices of planting and medicine based on native plants.

This III Congress of Indigenous Guna Women was held from September 6 to 8 in the community of Gardi Sugdub to be a space for dialogue, reflection, and strengthening among Guna women. The spirituality of Gunadule women and the processes of recovering ancestral knowledge were some of the topics discussed. Participants also reflected on the main socio-economic and environmental problems affecting their communities, in order to generate local development alternatives with a gender approach and from traditional Guna knowledge.

Briseida Iglesias, recognized as a Guna sage and founder of the Bundorgan Women’s Network, Darelis Erhman, leader of the women’s organization Nis Bundor, and Kandra Ehrman, Secretary General of the Guna Youth, were some of the panelists of the congress. Local authorities also participated, such as the Director of the Women’s Institute (INAMU) Nellys Herrera, and prominent members of the Guna General Congress. The words of welcome were given by the Sagladummagan Domitilio Morris, Rengifo Navas and the Argar guide Alberto Vázquez.

There was also space to discuss and evaluate the proposed organizational system of Bundorgan, resulting in the development of internal regulations and their approval in assembly, after three years of being organized among women.

This event had the support of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD), financed by USAID and implemented by the FSC Indigenous Foundation as part of the Project to Strengthen the Indigenous Agenda of Panama, which is being developed by the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, the Mesoamerican Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders, and the Association of Indigenous Emberá Women Artisans (AMARIE).

Strengthening from the root

The Guna Women’s Congress has been held every year since 2019, when the newly born Bundorgan Women’s Network convened this space. Up until ten years ago, Guna women were not allowed to participate in the General Congresses of the Guna Culture and only attended as companions, without the right to express their opinions. Women like Briceida Iglesias opened spaces so that women could attend the general congresses with voice and vote; promoting the management of their own space.

Thanks to these opportunities, Guna women have been developing a joint agenda of socio-cultural advocacy for the well-being of Mother Earth. Each meeting among Indigenous Guna women is a step forward to strengthen women and transgress the barriers that have historically limited the political participation of Indigenous women in decision-making spaces.

An increasing number of women have become interested and joined the Bondorgan Women’s Network. Forty-nine women attended the first congress and this year the number tripled, with the participation of 150 women from 32 communities of the Gunayala region.

The Bundorgan Women’s Network works for the recovery and preservation of traditional medicine, culture, and ancestral practices of planting and Guna medicine.

Originally published in Spanish on the Coordinadora de Mujeres Líderes Territoriales de Mesoamérica website.